London gardens and parks


Pall Mall in London

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Pall Mall
John Kip, A Prospect of the City of London, Westminster, & St. James’s Park c. 1710
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Ranelagh in London

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The Rotunda at Ranelagh
Canaletto (1754, National Gallery, London)
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Vauxhall in London

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A pavilion in Vauxhall was decorated with Hogarth’s Four Times of the Day.
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After the piece of music is finish’d, a silence ensues, of a length sufficient to allow the company time to take a circuit of the gardens before another begins ; which is the same before each piece ; and those intervals are chiefly employed in visiting the walks, remarking the company, and viewing the paintings, which have been put up the last spring to protect the Ladies, while sitting in the arbours, from catching cold in their necks by the inclemency of the evening breezes…. The walks leading close by the front of the arbours, (each of which is large enough to entertain ten or twelve persons to supper) the paintings at the back of every arbour afford a very entertaining view; especially when the Ladies, as ought ever to be contrived, sit with their heads against them. And, what adds not a little to the pleasure of these pictures, they give an unexceptional opportunity of gazing on any pleasing fair-one, without any other pretence than the credit of a fine taste for the piece behind her - To preserve these pieces from the weather, they are fixed so as to be in cases, contrived on purpose, from the close of the entertainment every night, to the fifth tune of the evening following, after which, in an instant, they all fall down; and, from an open rural view, the eye is relieved by the agreeable surprise of some of the most favourite fancies of our poets… (’An Evening at Vaux-hall’, The Scots Magazine, July 1739, p.332)


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Vauxhall by Rowlandson (1784)
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Rowlandson also made views of theatres, of Somerset House, and the satirical series The Comforts of Bath


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Music in Vauxhall Garden

“Rural Beauty, or Vaux-Hal Garden”

Flora, Goddess, sweetly blooming,
Ever airy, ever gay,
All her wonted Charms resuming,
To Spring-Garden calls away:
With this blissful Spot delighted,
Here ye Queen of May retreats,
Belles & Beaux are all invited,
To partake of varied Sweets (bis).



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Basso continuo
realised by Françoise ; Deconinck-Brossard ; Jane Beeson, soprano ; Lyn Williams †, harpsichord ; private recording, August 1997
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“Rural Beauty, or Vaux-Hal Garden”
The words by Mr Lockman, set by Mr Boyce
George Bickham Jr, The Musical Entertainer (1737)
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Detail showing the music kiosk
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An example of monodic baroque composition with figured bass accompaniment

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Saint James’s Park in London

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Saint James’s Park
Thomas Gainsborough, Saint James’s Park (1783)
© The Frick Collection, New York
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This large painting (120x147 cm) dates from Gainsborough’s London period, when, after his stay in Bath, he lived at Schomberg House
in Pall Mall.

According to legend, the three ladies of the central group might be the princesses (daughters of George III), and the background figure under the trees to the right might be a self-portrait. The artist is said to have composed the painting using dolls and a model of the setting.

Previously, Gainsborough had painted a view of the Charterhouse for the Foundling Hospital.

During his London period, he also painted a portrait of Garrick.




  • COKE, David, “Vauxhall Gardens” Rococo: Art and Design in Hogarth’s England. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1984.
  • COKE, David, and Alan BORG. Vauxhall Gardens: A History. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2011.
  • DE BOLLA, Peter. “The Visibility of Visuality: Vauxhall Gardens and the Siting of the Viewer” Vision and Textuality. Eds Stephen Melville and Bill Readings. London: Macmillan, 1995. 282-95.